Usability testing is an essential technique to evaluate a product by testing it on the end users. It is an effective method of analyzing the performance and drawbacks of an application. This process provides integral feedback on how real users use a system and what they think about it.
Objectives of Usability Testing
- Ensuring ease and convenience of use
- Ensuring the process of familiarizing with the system is smooth
- User satisfaction with his or her experience on the software
Timing of Usability Testing
The main goal of usability testing is to ensure that an application meets its requirement specifications. The earlier a defect is found, the cheaper it is to fix it. So ideally, the right time to conduct a usability test on an application is at the time it is being designed. However, a software undergoes many changes throughout the development process. Hence, usability test must be conducted often for better results.
Methods of Usability Testing
Usability testing is a part of the black box testing technique. It is executed as an internal process, and can be performed by designers, developers, and independent software testers. Based on the results of the test cases, the design and/or code of a software can then be modified.
A more advanced approach to usability testing is to hire real-time users and give them a few particular tasks. A facilitator can be appointed to create these tasks and drive results from the users. The users can provide information such as whether the task was successful or not, the ease of performance, their experience of using the software, etc.
Other ways of carrying out usability tests are:
- Performing random tests related to development, design and quality assurance (QA) after building an application
- Leveraging a tool which provides statistics as per the input wire frames and the designs submitted
- Hiring a usability team to work on-site to conduct usability tests
- Submitting the wire frames to an external evaluator and getting results from them
Usability Testing Process (When Conducted with Real-time Users)
In this first step, one has to identify users who are neither too experienced nor too amateur.
Designing the Tasks:
The second step is to design situations in which the users will use the application. One will have to make sure that the tasks are either similar or closely related to the activity which an end-user does with an application.
The final step is to facilitate the environment in which the users will test the usability of an application. When the users are testing the application, the tester team would keep an eye on the behavior of the application, gather the results, and extract a conclusion from the usability testing activity to ensure that the application is providing smooth performance.
Advantages of Usability Testing
- Usability testing is immensely helpful in finding defects and bugs which are not visible to the developer.
- If the correct resources are used, usability tests can also assist in fixing all the problems which a user faces before an application is released.
- A usability test can be easily modified as per the requirements to support various other types of testing such as unit, functional, system integration, etc.
- Performing usability testing could minimize the number of support calls by the end users to the help desk.
- Reduced number of calls to the help desk brings down the cost related with it.
- For software to be used internally in the enterprise, usability testing helps to bring down the associated training cost for users to learn how to operate the application.
- It is also widely held that user acceptance is positively impacted through usability testing, and customer loyalty increases as well in the long run.